Leading with Purpose

How brands respond in times of difficulty can make or break their business. As we emerge from some of the most challenging months we’ve ever faced in business, the world has changed. People have had time to re-evaluate what they really value and we’ve seen this translate to consumer, employee and personal behaviours.

When it comes to business, the list of challenges and opportunities continues to grow: global recession, pandemic re-occurrence, collapse in air travel, changed customer value proposition, new business models and intensely competitive domestic markets. When it comes to people, the list is equally disruptive with a changed employee value proposition, engagement, productivity and collaboration in remote/ hybrid environments, workplace redesign and reskilling, retaining and motivating your people. To succeed, it is absolutely essential that brands are proactively and purposefully evolving to our new post-Covid environment.

Purpose drives growth

In the past generation, our society has changed, and businesses worldwide have had to adapt to keep up with it. Brands are no longer just a provider of products or services – they are values and purpose. Following on from the “Strength of Purpose” study by New York-based Zeno Group surveying 8,000 global consumers and 75 companies and brands across 8 markets, they found that consumers were four times more likely to purchase from a brand with a strong purpose, four times more likely to trust the brand and six times more likely to “protect the brand in a challenging moment”. Today, customers are communities. They are ambassadors. And this extends to the people inside your organisation. 

For this reason, brands not only need to assess their purpose in terms of attracting customers, but for attracting talent too. Leading with purpose can make a significant difference to, and impact on your people. But how can you build a purpose-driven environment? Leadership has a significant role to play.

Are you leading the way?

According to Harvard Business Review, fewer than 20 percent of leaders have a strong sense of individual purpose, whereas according to research by Ernst & Young, 96 percent of leaders say that purpose is important to their sense of job satisfaction. How does the purpose of your organisation intersect with your own beliefs? As a leader, you have the power to make your organisation’s purpose relevant and real to your people via your own words and actions. 

Along with this, The Strength of Purpose survey revealed some fascinating insights regarding how leaders fit into this purpose-driven framework. 81% surveyed said that a CEO, Founder or Owner is most responsible for driving a brand’s purpose, while 77% of consumers believe a company’s leader should embody their brand purpose and mission in their personal life. This is a big ask of leaders within in any size of business. 

In today’s world, the increased transparency enabled by the internet has meant that many leaders are being scrutinised as never before. CEOs of large companies now have the status of celebrities, especially tech disruptors such as Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey and Jeff Bezos. Often famous for their wealth as much as their business achievements, the lives and values of these leaders transfer onto how we perceive their companies. Most CEOs will never attract this level of scrutiny, but it points to the ways in which the dimensions of leadership are changing. It’s not enough to simply lead your company, you have to be a role model for your people. 

The Role of Boards

Boards can be instrumental in activating a companies’ sense of purpose. The World Economic Forum has outlined how boards can make an impact in our changed, post-Covid world, by aligning strategic priorities with drivers of sustainable value creation. Through strong leadership and being future focused, boards will need to manage a myriad of new and more complex challenges including digital transformation, globalisation of our working practices and making health and wellbeing a priority. Setting and governing purpose will be key to making this happen.

Leaders and boards should inspire their people to engage with the purpose of the company in a meaningful way. According to a study by Mercer, top employees are three times more likely to work for a company with a strong sense of purpose. But brand leaders need to make sure that their purpose and commitment to social values is more than just a marketing exercise.  As a business you need to gain clarity on what you stand for, live your values, activate your purpose, and you’ll create a stronger community of customers who are loyal to your brand and people who are engaged and motivated in their work. 

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Are you clear on your purpose? How purpose-driven is your organisation? Are you clear on the opportunity for your business to leverage your purpose to be more successful? Discover more on leading with purpose in ourJuly Brand Report. Download your version of the report now.

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